Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

School of Aging Studies

Major Professor

William E. Haley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Debra Dobbs, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara E. Green, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Soomi Lee, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Victor Molinari, Ph.D.


discrimination, race, stress process, work-family spillover


By the year 2060 in the United States (U.S.), not only will the number of adults aged 65 and older double, non-Hispanic Whites (Whites), who currently constitute 77% of the older adult population, will constitute just slightly more than half of older adults. As the older adult population diversifies, so will their caregivers. Over 60% of informal caregivers of older adults (caregivers) are employed, and the majority of these are employed full time. Little is known about the unique experiences of working Black or African American (Black/AA) and White caregivers and non-caregivers in the U.S. This dissertation consists of three studies that examine stressors, resources, and psychological well-being among working Black/AA and White caregivers and non-caregivers using data from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study.

Study One investigated differences in perceived general discrimination (lifetime and everyday) and workplace discrimination (chronic job discrimination and work inequality) among working Black/AA caregivers (n = 50), working Black/AA non-caregivers (n = 396), working White caregivers (n = 266), and working White non-caregivers (n = 2895). Working Black/AA participants reported higher lifetime discrimination, everyday discrimination, and work inequality than working White participants. Working caregivers also reported higher lifetime discrimination than working non-caregivers. There were also key demographic and work-related differences for all kinds of discrimination. Results point to the importance of considering discrimination in the stress process for diverse working adults. They also illuminate the need to examine ways in which caregiving status is related to discriminatory experiences.

Study Two examined differences in directions and domains of multi-dimensional work-family spillover among working Black/AA (n = 50) and White (n = 260) caregivers. While no racial differences were found for the directions and domains of spillover, there were important differences for demographic, caregiving, and workplace factors. Results suggest that race alone is not an adequate predictor of work-family spillover for working caregivers, but that other modifiable factors, especially those related to the workplace, should be the focus of future research and interventions aimed at reducing negative spillover and increasing positive spillover for working caregivers.

Study Three examined individual differences in predictors of well-being, as measured by life satisfaction, positive affect, and negative affect, among working Black/AA (n = 49) and White (n = 250) caregivers. Results of hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that secondary role stressors from the workplace were better predictors of all three well-being outcomes than caregiving stressors. In addition, perceived control, optimism, and family support were important resources for improved well-being for both groups. Race independently predicted life satisfaction and negative affect after controlling for caregiving and work characteristics. Finally, working Black/AA caregivers reported more negative work-to-family conflict, perceived control, religious/spiritual coping, and negative affect than working White caregivers. Results highlight the appropriateness of the workplace as a setting for interventions aimed at improving the well-being of working Black/AA and White caregivers.

Overall, this dissertation highlights the importance of understanding the role of unique stressors and resources as they relate to well-being among diverse working caregivers. Future research should examine cultural factors that contribute to racial differences in the stress process for diverse working caregivers to illuminate pathways for improving the experience of simultaneously working and providing informal care for an older adult.